Life is a structure built by units of personal experiences. Furniture is a structure built by units of simple components. I cherish every influential experience in my life. Relationships with my family and friends have always been an irreplaceable motivation for me. The unconditional love from my family and the strong bond I have with my close friends are great comforts to me and guide me to be an optimistic person. Meanwhile, I enjoy the diversity of assembling simple components to create a composition with visual impact; and the dynamic free-flowing space contained in forms. All those above inform my thesis body of work. I captured those significant moments in my life by making furniture pieces inspired by them. In the whole body of work, I made a side table-- Unity, a coat rack-- Diversity, a set of two displaying shelves-- Confluence, and a shoe rack-- What remains …
For these pieces, there are different episodes of memory involved. Unity and Diversity share the same inspiration. It is to collect symbols and stories from experiences I shared with my college roommates. Confluence is related to stories between my mother and me. What remains… is created base on the memory of my lost friend-- I found that after our graduation, we are going to the opposite way from one intersection.
Collecting symbols and stories from those memories is always my first step. For my thesis body of work, I started from rewinding memories. Then I tried to capture the logic and symbols within those stories. In the meantime, I sketched to get a group of geometric shapes and patterns. By doing that, stories were abstracted to patterns that guided my design process. Symbols were blended into the objects. On the other hand, I always believe that the assembling process is unpredictable and fascinating. When single components are duplicated and mixed, countless possibilities will be generated. For my thesis body of work, I chose to use simple geometric shapes to form objects of various dimensions with cantilevered and overhanging elements.
Color plays an important role that serves each experiential concept in a complete form. In my view, color choice is an important part of a design format. I chose to use different finishes on each piece. Among my whole body of work, I made one piece with a natural wood finish, one piece with a black dye finish, and another piece partially finished with milk paint.
Wood choice is also a concern for me. Ash is one kind of wood carrying a bright, cutting tone. By contrast, walnut has a dark tone and a more gentle wood grain. Their appearances are quite different, but they contract at a similar rate. In the whole body of work, ash is my primary wood choice while there is also a small amount of walnut involved.
Furniture Design (MFA)
Department, Program, or Center
School for American Crafts (CIAS)
Lu, Shan, "Vital Construction" (2016). Thesis. Rochester Institute of Technology. Accessed from
RIT – Main Campus